Well, we already covered some of 2013’s films to look forward to (and not) last week, so why not give the video games of this year their time in the TR limelight as well?
Despite what the naysayers would tell you, I thought 2012 was a damn fine year for gaming, one that gave us such classics as The Walking Dead, Borderlands 2, Journey, Fez, Dishonored, Hotline Miami…Well, you get the idea. The point is, the games of 2013 have a lot to live up to, but damned if they’re not going to try. Granted, narrowing down the list to just ten games was a near-impossible task, but let’s see if we can’t get you excited enough to spill your wallet out for this year’s crop of digital escapist entertainment…
15 through 11. Guacamelee!, Beyond: Two Souls, The Wonderful 101, The Last of Us, and Watch Dogs
Aaaaand thing are not off to a good start, admittingly, when we’re breaking general list rules and looking like none of us can perform basic math. Okay, explanation: These games are the only five from TR’s last gaming preview list that haven’t been released yet, due out this year. But since none of them have experienced any significant developments since then, and since putting them on this list would arguably just result in me repeating myself, we’re just going to give them a bit of an Honorable Mention here for now, since all of them are still worthy of being this year’s Most Wanted. That being said, The Last of Us will apparently have multiplayer, and The Wonderful 101 did get a new trailer recently, as seen above. Apparently it now has even larger enemies, some shooting levels, and most importantly, waterslide. So yeah, friggin’ sweet. (EDIT: Yeah, go figure, The Last of Us starts getting new previews showcasing more details the second I finish writing this.)
10. Remember Me
Granted, given the slipping of Capcom’s reputation into “Satan” territory over the past year and with people questioning their output (along with their usual taste in dialogue, though that’s pretty much expected by this point), people have been quite skeptical over Remember Me. Nonetheless, there are still a number of reasons to be hopeful for this one, number one being the unique “memory remixing” mechanic it features, where you get to enter someone’s mind and alter their memories in order to achieves your goals…a mechanic that has apparently been phased out of all the game’s current trailers, sadly, quite possibly due to the original showcase of them being a tad dark. (EDIT: one just showed up as deadline for this piece was approaching.)Well, crap. Now all we have to be impressed by are the gorgeous graphics, engrossing cyberpunk world, and crazy-ass combat featuring over 50,000 combos. Dang. So yeah, hopefully our protagonist Nilin’s adventures as a “memory hunter” end up capturing more than a few hearts this year, also insert stock joke about game being memorable.
9. Don’t Starve
First, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, Don’t Starve obviously sounds similar to Minecraft. In fact, Klei Entertainment – the people behind last year’s critically acclaimed Mark of the Ninja – have openly stated Minecraft was indeed an influence here. But where Don’t Starve stands out is in its larger emphasis on survival. You’re thrown into a foreign world, isolated with no explanation as to what’s going on without so much as a tutorial to guide your way, and you only have one real goal (no prizes for guessing what that goal is). You’ll have to hunt, build, search, experiment, and die very, very often in order to succeed and fulfill the titular requirement, and the developers aim to make it all as satisfying as possible. The game’s Victorian-meets-Tim Burton presentation style definitely helps as well, and pretty much perfectly nails the feeling of otherworldly creepiness presented by a world in which everything aims to kill you somehow. Don’t Starve is available as a beta right now, and if the final product is even one-fifth as good, then your giant voxel reproduction of the Enterprise may very well have some major competition for your attention…
8. Soul Sacrifice
If there’s a system in 2013 that needs a good boost in quality games, it’d be the PS Vita. Of course, giving it that boost would require someone to give Sony a swift kick in the ass and actually remind them that, oh yeah, the Vita still exists and it actually needs some damn games, period. Luckily, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune is here to help try and save the day with Soul Sacrifice, a fantasy action game with quite the surprising focus on the theme of sacrifice. Basically, the player controllers several different sorcerers throughout history via the use of a Necronomicon-style book and has the option to perform sacrifices to increase their power, be it sacrificing enemies, party members, or even your own body parts, in the case you want to create a bitchin’ giant sword made of your own spine and various organs (and who wouldn’t?). And of course, as you might have guessed, your play style and tastes in sacrifices will eventually shape your character and how they battle the traditional assortment of freaky-ass monsters with human faces, so you might want to think twice before pulling a Mola Ram on your partner. Throw in some four-player co-op so you can show off your scars to all your friends and let them join in on some intense combat, and you might just very well have the killer app the Vita finally deserves (well, along with Gravity Rush).
Honestly, Fortnite deserves a spot on this list simply by virtue of being a shooter with a vibrant, colorful style and a sense of humor in an age where every other major shooter features roided-up space marines in a gritty brown apocalypse. Even more amazing? This one is coming from Epic Games, a.k.a. the guys behind Gears of War, a.k.a. the KING of shooters with roided-up space marines in a gritty brown apocalypse. Epic wanted to debut Unreal Engine 4 with something original and unexpected, and god bless ’em for it! Admittedly, details on this one have been kind of tight – the only gameplay demo so far was shown behind closed doors to the press at last year’s Comic-Con – but the game essentially revolves around a co-op series of battles where players have to scavenge for materials – any materials (the Minecraft influence strikes again, but still in a good way) – by day in order to fends off impish creatures wearing human skins as hoodies by night, presumably leading up to one of those classic cartoon moments where you frantically board up the door with everything humanly possible only to turn around and discover the monster was in the room with you the whole time…record scratch! So between the lovable TF2-esque style and the scavenge-infused and tower defense-style combat that sounds like a hoot, Fortnite sounds and looks like it’ll be an absolute blast to play, especially with the emphasis on co-op play. Did I mention the freaky creatures that wear human skin hoodies? D’awww, they look kinda cute…
Hey, Sony DID remember to get someone to make more Vita games! Thanks for the ass kick, whoever you are! Tearaway is the latest from the makers of LittleBigPlanet, and it looks to deliver the same insane levels of charm, whimsy and originality that its predecessor had. Taking place in a holy-crap-that-looks-astonishing fantasy world composed entirely of papercraft, the player takes control of a plucky little messenger who has to traverse the land in order to deliver a special message to…um, the player themselves, actually. Yeah. Seriously. Plot oddities aside, Tearaway has more going for it than just a unique and jaw-dropping visual style (seriously, if what you see in that video doesn’t make your eyes slightly pop, you have no soul), such as the ability to play god using pretty much every single ability the Vita has, as seen above. Whether you’re folding the terrain to your benefit, bursting through the screen to solve puzzles, or literally blowing your enemies away, it’s a safe bet to say Tearaway is the type of game that plans keep you entertained and astounded at every turn. Just please resist your urge to give that elk a skin made of penises.
5. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Oh gosh. How shocking. Who could’ve guessed this particular TR member would put this game on the list. Gasp. Okay, fanboyism aside, the Sly Cooper series has always been one of the most solid platforming series out there, with a wide variety of stealth/heist-inspired gameplay and a cel-shaded art style and feel that serves as a love letter to the Saturday morning cartoons of the ’80s and ’90s. So with Thieves in Time finally taking the series to the PS3 and planning to make things bigger and better with an even wider range of abilities and colorful landscapes taking place throughout history, Sly and the gang must travel through time in order to change history back to normal, thwart a mysterious villain, and retrieve the sports almanac restore the fabled family tome, the Thievius Raccoonus. As usual, the general variety of stealth moves looks fun as hell to play around with, be it pickpocketing, spire jumps, or running across tightropes, but then throw in a slew of even more insane techniques used to help you steal from those who stole, along with a cast of colorful and fun characters to play around with, and you have another classic platformer that will show the world what the genre and series is capable of come…um, tomorrow, actually. Don’t expect to see me for a bit… (EDIT: Yeah, this was written before the game just came out…in North America. But not in Europe, so I’m still counting it, ha! *throws smoke bomb, escapes*)
4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Platinum Games has had quite the track record of creating intense and unique games seemingly based around the wet dreams of adolescent middle school boys, from “violent chainsaw game show” to “extremely hot girl shoots tons of angels” and “soldier kills commies with rocket suit”. And Revengeance aims to continue that tradition with “cyborg ninja destroys robots with absurdly sharp sword”, but with a slight Metal Gear twist. Emphasis on “slight” there, as Revengeance seems to put more emphasis on gleefully over-the-top action, with Scrappy-turned-cyborg Raiden performing a variety of ninjitsu techniques including the ability to dash towards an opponent, strike at an enemy’s critical point, slice them in half multiple times over, and then convert them into Brawndo (no, seriously), all in the name of revenge. And no matter how times you see that sword slice through increasingly impossible targets, you can’t deny that it doesn’t look like it’d be crazy awesome to pull off. Is it a huge departure from the typical Metal Gear formula? Yes. But does it look like it’ll be a FUN departure? Oh, hell yes.
3. Killer is Dead
The last time we saw Killer is Dead here, it was compared to a Jackson Pollock painting. Of course, the thing about works of art from artists like Pollock is that as weird as they may seem, they can still come out as things of beauty. In this case, a thing of beauty involving a robot drill hand being shoved through an assassin’s face, but beauty nonetheless. Intended by Suda 51 to return to where his previous assassin games – Killer 7 and No More Heroes – left off, KiD looks to be yet another notch on his belt of unique and mesmerizing games, with a style and feel best described in a Destructoid conversation as a result of what happens with you combine the Tetsuo films, No More Heroes, and a Japanese James Bond all in a blender, and I mean that in the best way possible. The adventures of Mondo Zappa (contender for best main character name ever) look to promise a rollicking good time involving gleefully chaotic action, an intriguing-to-say-the-least plot, and the promise of dismembering robots full of neon and killing and/or nailing mysterious multi-armed women. In short, Suda 51 is still insane, and I friggin’ love him for it.
Puppeteer is a 2.5D platformer with an original IP being released on retail shelves for a major video game console in 2013. Now, any two or three bits of that previous sentence may make more sense when combined, but altogether they form a rarity in this day and age, and to say that Puppeteer is looking to be a true gem may be an understatement. Playing as a young boy kidnapped by the Moon Bear King who gets turned into a puppet, has his head torn off, and now has to fight back with a magical pair of scissors (made in Japan? You don’t say!), you’ll have to traverse an entire mystical land…actually, scratch that, the land will actually be traversing around YOU, since the action takes place entirely on the stage of a puppet show, with the scenery moving around as an offscreen audience oohs, ahhs, and applauds every action occurring. And just to make sure they need me to drool over this game even more, the game even offers power-ups in the form of a wide variety of interchangeable heads, as if to almost say that Puppeteer is a spiritual successor to the Genesis platforming classic Dynamite Headdy, just with more moments reminiscent of villain songs from a Disney cartoon. In other words, it looks like a delightfully creepy children’s fantasy story boasting a variety of unique and impressive character and level designs, and it looks to play like a perfect blend of old-school and new-school platforming, which adds up to one eerie and enchanting experience guaranteed to blow one’s mind…off their shoulders…you know, because the character here lost its head and ah, screw it.
1. BioShock Infinite
BioShock 2 was a bit of an enigma…It had better gameplay when compared to the original, yet the story was significantly weaker. Now, one would think that gameplay beats story when it comes to a quality video game, but it turned out that the undersea kingdom of Rapture was the spectacular kind of experience that you just can’t replicate. So 2K has decided to ditch Rapture this time around and head in a different direction…quite literally, actually. So now as a detective in the flying steampunk city of Columbia circa 1912, your job is to go and save a mysterious woman while the whole society starts to crumble around because you know, the more things change…I kid, though, because Infinite looks to hit the perfect balance of core BioShock mechanics (such as being able to shoot several killer animals out of your hands, naturally) and several new twists presented by the game’s setting, including zipline travel and combat 50,000 feet above the ground, a partner who can rip apart space and time to get you anything you need, and the chance to battle an evil, machine gun-wielding robot version of George Washington (who is obviously not having the most flattering year in gaming). But in the end, all the matters is that Infinite is gearing up to deliver that same kind of unforgettable experience the first game had, with everything from story to graphics to setting to combat to add up to something truly engrossing and guaranteed to leave a crater-sized impact on your fragile gaming soul. I can’t think of anything else to say that could make this game sound any better than it’ll definitely turn out to be, so I’ll just end it on three words: BUY. THIS. GAME.
…And that’s it for 2013’s video games to look forward to. Actually, it really isn’t, because there were several, several candidates for this list be they indie or triple-A, and I’m guessing that some of you are ready to chew me out for not including them. So know of any games MIA here that everyone should know about? Tell us in the comments!